COMMONWEALTH TURF FESTIVAL RECAP

DEPUTY FLING (Coady Photography)

(NEW KENT, VA — 7/30/11) — Deputy Fling found another gear as the field turned for home Saturday night at Colonial Downs in the newly named Bert Allen Stakes, and the three year old Deputy Storm gelding brought home a victory for Bert’s son, trainer Ferris Allen.

Colonial Downs showcased Virginia-bred horses in a first time event called the $250,000 Commonwealth Turf Fest Saturday. Five stakes restricted to state-bred horses were each contested for a $50,000 purse.

The first twelve editions of the “Allen: stakes race had been known as the John D. Marsh, but when Mr. Allen passed away earlier this year, it was renamed in his honor. Mr. Allen, a Varina native, had been an ambassador of Virginia racing from day one.

His son Ferris, battling with Dane Kobiskie and Mike Pino for the training title this summer, gained a two win cushion over the duo with the victory. Deputy Fling, who was making his fourth start at New Kent, had a win, second and fourth, but faced his biggest test in the eleven horse field. After gaining a two length advantage at the top of the stretch, he crossed by 4 1/2 lengths over Magic Norman in 102.63.   

The $50,000 Jamestown Stakes, exclusively for two year olds, kicked off the quintet of Virginia-bred offerings. Harbingerofthings went gate to wire in the 5 ½ furlong sprint for trainer Mike Trombetta. The Rockport Harbor filly struggled in a maiden special weight debut here on June 25th but thrived against six other freshman foes, crossing 1 3/4 lengths over Play Eighteen Saturday. Jockey Julian Pimentel led the charge for owner/breeder Larry Johnson.

The Trombetta-Pimentel-Johnson combo struck again in the next race, capturing the 5 ½ furlong Oakley Stakes with Doing Great. The three year old Great Notion filly was three of six entering the race, but had never competed on turf. She took the lead from Miss Oil at the three-eighths mark and never looked back, storming home by 6 ½ lengths in 1:02.05. The filly was bred by Larry Johnson as well.

Silver Tie Affair had to rally big time in the final quarter to earn a one length victory over Chris Crocker’s Chedi in the Daniel Van Clief Stakes. Sent off at 7-1, the 5 year old Black Tie Affair gelding drifted back to eighth in the nine horse field at the three-quarter mark but rebounded gamely early in the stretch to win. Jockey Alex Cintron rode for trainer and co-owner Hassan Elamri. Track record holder Chedi rebounded from fifth early in the stretch but fell just shy.

FERRIS ALLEN (Amy Petty Photo)

Biggest upset of the five stakes came in the one mile Brookemeade, when Embarr came from dead last in the nine horse field to nip In the Rough in a thrilling photo finish at the wire. Leading jock Sheldon Russell spearheaded the upset for trainer/owner/breeder Susan Cooney. Sent off at 24-1, the 3 year old Royal Academy filly paid $51.20 to win. The Brookemeade also completed an All Stakes Pick-5 wager that returned $1,450 for bettors that had four of the five correct winners.

“Susan didn’t give me a lot of instruction before the race,” said winning rider Sheldon Russell. “I got the horse relaxed and just waited patiently to make that one big move.” Embarr won June 8th at Colonial, then faultered in a Monmouth allowance three weeks ago before connecting with her rally Saturday.

Much more coverage of the Commonwealth Turf Festival later today.